St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Other Game St George's Park - Other Game
Other Game

No visit to South Africa is complete without viewing some of our wonderful game. These photographs were taken at the Kragga Kamma Game Park situated about a 20 minute drive from St George's Park. All these photographs were taken within a one hour visit.

CHEETAH

(Acinonyx jubatus)

Cheetah

The cheetah is not a true cat, for its claws cannot be fully sheathed.

It is more often seen than the leopard, doing more of its hunting in the daytime, but is frequently called a leopard by those who see it, in spite of the marked differences.

In colour both animals are much alike, but the spots of the cheetah are all solid and separate instead of grouped as on the leopard.

The cheetah is altogether lighter and more slender in build, though a couple of inches higher at the shoulder because of its long, delicate legs.

Its head is noticeably smaller, and its tail for the latter half is marked in rings.

The differences in build between cheetah and leopard are comparable to the differences between a bull-terrier and a greyhound.

The cheetah is built for speed, catching its prey by a sudden swift rush after a patient stalk to bring it within striking distance.

Over a quarter of a mile the cheetah is probably the fastest animal in the veld, its speed having been accurately calculated up to 89kmh, with an acceleration of 72kmh in two seconds from a standing start.

When level with its victim, it knocks the fleeting antelope out of stride with its paws and then kills it with a throat-hold.

It is common to find a pair hunting together and they are able to pull down as heavy a beast as a fully grown koodoo bull between them.

They do not make a long chase, however, giving up if they fail to catch their prey in the first rush.

The cheetah prefers open country with patches of cover, which is most suited to its method of attack. Its cubs are born in natural lairs in thick bush or rocky hillocks.

Strangely, their fur is relatively long, grey in colour, and quite unspotted.

In character, the cheetah is far removed from the leopard, being kind and mild and easily tameable.

It avoids man completely, and only if wounded and cornered is it likely to attack him.

When tamed, its temperament is even and reliable, so that it can be led on a leash like a dog with safety.

The cheetah's voice is like a cat's loud mewing, with a deeper, throaty quality.

IMPALA

(Aepyceros melampus)

Impala

Young Impala

Young Impala

Also known as palla, redbuck or rooibok.

This, more than any other, is the buck of thick bush and mopani forest country.

In undisturbed areas it assembles in herds of a hundred or more, but in other places small troops of a dozen or so are more usual.

These herds have well-defined seasonal movements towards the neighbourhood of permanent water, rivers and dams in the dry season, but wandering much more widely during the rains.

Impala drink frequently unless their fodder is freshly green and succulent.

The impala is about three feet high at the shoulder, and of slender build, with a graceful upward sweep of neck.

It weighs about 20kg.

The doe is hornless, but the buck has delicate horns, long for the size of the animal (up to 91cm), ranging backwards, outwards and upwards in a lyre-shaped curve, with transverse ridges for most of the length.

The skin colour is chestnut-red, lighter on the flanks, with a well-marked line between this and the pure white underparts.

There is a black vertical stripe on each buttock, and a black stripe on the back which is carried down onto the tail.

This buck is remarkable for its leaping.

Jumps of 9m in length and over 3m in height have been recorded.

When startled, its progress through the bush is a series of astonishing bounds over all kinds of obstacles-even imaginary ones.

A great deal of delightful play takes place among the individuals of a herd, with much leaping and running in a kind of chase.

Fierce fighting takes place among the rams at the beginning of the mating season, each trying to secure a number of ewes for himself.

At this time the rams may be heard grunting like a deep-voiced dog, at any time of day or night.

They become much less suspicious than usual.

A ram chasing a ewe, snorting at every stride as if the impact of its feet on the ground forced the sound out, may pass within a few feet of a quiet watcher, and fail to notice him.

WATERBUCK

(Cobus ellipsiprymnus)

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

His is one of the group of heavily built antelopes known as cobs, and is the only one likely to be met south of the Zambesi.

It is a shaggy, coarse-haired animal about 1.2m high at the shoulder, in general build not unlike a well-fed donkey, and varying in colour from reddish to grey.

It is unfailingly identified by the oval white ring on the buttocks, a mark not carried by any other antelope.

The male carries good horns, rising well up from the head and curving gently forward towards the tip.

These may pass 76 cm in length and are strongly ringed except for the last few inches.

The female is hornless.

Waterbuck are grass feeders.

They associate in small troops, usually of one bull and a number of cows and young animals, and rarely travel far from water, although much of their grazing is done on stony hillsides.

In spite of their build they are sure-footed, and climb well.

They are good swimmers too, and if hunted by lion or leopard or wild dogs will always make for the nearest water.

A solitary animal separated from the herd often takes to the river pools as the final refuge, standing shoulder deep if the water is sufficient, and giving effective defiance against most enemies in this manner.

The ordinary gait of the waterbuck is a slow walk, or a jerky trot when disturbed.

Its lumbering gallop when alarmed is an uncomfortable gait and not kept up for long.

The scent of the waterbuck is very strong, and its flesh is usually considered unpalatable.

It is not, therefore, much sought after by hunters now, but the early colonists had a great regard for waterbuck hide because it gave them a good waterproof leather for their homemade veld shoes.

NYALA

(Tragelaphus angasi)

Nyala

Nyala

One of the rarer animals, the nyala is found in very limited localities.

Its natural home is in the thick bush of the eastern areas, from Zululand northwards.

Though not numerous any where, its secretive habits make it seen more rarely in most places even than its numbers would warrant.

By day the nyala keeps in close cover, only coming out to feed at night.

Its food is apparently confined to browse off certain trees-which may explain its limited distribution-and such seasonal fruit as ripe, fallen morulas.

Nyala keep together in small groups, consisting ordinarily of either a herd ram with four or five ewes or a few young rams and ewes.

Rams and ewes are completely different in appearance and could readily be mistaken for distinct species.

The ram stands about 106 cm high at the shoulder and is almost chocolate-brown in colour with a few indistinct transverse white stripes down its sides.

(In old rams the general colour changes to slaty blue.)

A long fringe of hair decorates the throat, ending in a white tuft on the dewlap.

On the neck a black mane goes as f ar as the shoulders and is continued by a white mane along the back right to the rump.

The nose is marked by a conspicuous white "V" between the eyes, and there is more white under the chin, under the belly and on flanks and thighs.

The horns are big, about 60cm in length.

They are lyre-shaped, slightly twisted and have distinctive yellow tips.

The tail is long and bushy, black above and white underneath.

The ewes are hornless, bright chestnut-red in colour with 12 or more clear white stripes down the sides.

There is no white "V" on the face, but a black line runs the full length of the backbone from head to rump.

The cry of the nyala is a deep, snorting bark.

BLUE WILDEBEEST

(Gorgon taurinus)

Gnu

Wildebeest (pronounced vilda-beast) is a name given by the early Dutch settlers of the Cape, and means "wild ox".

This animal is also known as the gnu, from the original KhoiSan name.

It is slaty blue in colour, with faint transverse bands of darker colour on neck and forequarters.

The body is slender, with light hindquarters and a disproportionately heavy head.

The neck carries a rough horse-like mane, and also a heavy fringe of hair along the dewlap.

The shoulders are distinctly humped, with height of about four feet three inches.

Both male and female carry horns, somewhat resembling those of the buffalo but much smaller and lighter.

Probably because of these, wildebeest are often mistaken by the inexperienced for buffalo, though the general shape and heavy build of the latter provide adequate distinction when once seen.

It is not always realised that the wildebeest is an antelope as truly as koodoo or sable.

In spite of its rather clumsy appearance it is one of the fastest of veld animals when in full flight, with great endurance and tenacity of life.

It is also easily excitable, and indulges frequently in nervous antics, prancing, tossing its head and whisking its long black tail.

When cornered or seemingly helplessly wounded it must still be approached with caution for it will charge fiercely even when at the point of death.

This behaviour seems to be a contradiction to the quietly grazing troops seen in the game reserve, but, although they have not learnt to be alarmed by a car, they are altogether unapproachable by a man on foot.

Wildebeest live in open country, fairly close to water and do not stray far from the chosen locality.

They drink usually at dawn or dusk, occasionally in the middle of the day.

Solitary animals are hardly ever seen, for the wildebeest is highly gregarious.

It lives in troops numbering from about a dozen upwards, and associates freely with other animals, especially zebra.

Old males driven from the herd nearby always consort with waterbuck, tsessebe, or impala herds.

The wildebeest is the main victim of lion in its natural haunts.

In the early days this animal existed in countless numbers, but now is no longer to be seen in great herds except in untouched areas like the Makarikari pans of Botswana.

ZEBRA

(Equus burchelli)

Zebra

Burchell's Zebra the common zebra of the Southern African bushveld.

The pale yellow and black transversely striped colouring is well known.

The pattern of striping varies slightly even on individuals in one herd, and certain types of pattern which occur in definite areas have been classed as distinct sub-species.

In Zimbabwe a form having a strongly marked banding down the full length of the leg is distinguished as Selous's zebra (equus burchelli selousi), but such distinctions may be left to the scientist.

The zebra is highly gregarious.

Single animals are very rarely seen, but in favourable localities herds of up to 1,000 occur.

It is usual to see troops of between half a dozen and 50.

Other animals, especially antelope, often attach themselves to zebra companies.

Open, dry country is their usual haunt, within the neighbourhood of water.

The zebra is a grazing animal drinking mostly at night, though quite likely to be seen at water in the daytime in undisturbed areas.

It does not linger at a pool after drinking, but gets away quickly - a habit usually ascribed to its innate fear of lion.

Where the zebra is common it is the most frequent victim of lion, being less active than most antelope.

Its speed does not nearly match that of a good horse.

Easily domesticated, the zebra has often been worked in harness, but lacks the stamina for continual or hard work.

Its immunity to horse-sickness would otherwise have made it a valuable domestic animal.

The value of the zebra's pronounced colour pattern as camouflage has often been discussed.

In the open and close at hand there is no doubt that the zebra is a conspicuous animal, whether alone or in a large herd.

In the case of small companies however, it is noticeable that at a distance the pattern blends into an inconspicuous tawny colour, and a troop of half a dozen zebras standing still behind a thin screen of bush is extremely difficult to see.

Relative absence of movement is, of course, indispensable to the success of any camouflage pattern.

The call of the zebra is a high, loud bray, "kwa-ha," which is repeated several times.

GIRAFFE

(Giraffa camelopardalis)

Giraffe

The giraffe is one of the most notable of Africa's mammals, because of its unreasonable height.

A good bull will top 5.4 m, and a fully grown cow probably 4.8 m.

Most of this elevation is due to the extremely long legs and neck.

It is astounding that a giraffe's neck-bones number only seven, the same as in a hippopotamus, which appears to have no neck at all.

Several varieties of giraffe have been named, mostly on colour difference.

The species (wardi) typical of Zimbabwe has large irregular patches of chestnut or brown over a yellowish background, with chestnut mane, and pale underparts.

Two short, skin-covered "horns" decorate the head in both sexes, with a further bony swelling between the eyes.

In more northerly species this develops into a third horn.

The giraffe's tongue is exceedingly long and ribbon-like and prehensile, well adapted for plucking leaves and seed pods from the flat-topped camel thorn tree (known scientifically as acacia giraffae) which is its favourite food.

It browses on other trees, but rarely grazes, having great difficulty in reaching to the ground in spite of its long neck.

When drinking it must straddle its feet wide apart in order to get down to the water.

Being naturally animals of the semi-desert country, giraffes are able to go for many months without water, but drink frequently where it is available.

Though not usually alarmed at the approach of a car they are difficult animals to stalk otherwise.

Their sight and scent are keen, and their height gives them a wide survey of the country.

It is surprising too how such a large creature can be overlooked until movement or a shift of light betrays it.

The dappled pattern of their coloration makes them inconspicuous at any distance as they stand among the trees.

Their main enemy is the lion.

They have no defence in their horns, but are able to kill or cripple even a lion with a single kick if well aimed.

In attack, a lion leaps to the giraffe's back and claws its way up the neck where it can make an effective bite, unless shaken off by the giraffe's mad dash through the timber.

When running, the giraffe moves its neck backwards and forwards in row-boat fashion.

The tail is twisted up over the back.

The stride is long and sweeping, with a rolling effect since both fore and hind legs on each side are moved together.

Giraffe usually are met in parties of up to a dozen, the bulls recognisable by their greater height and darker colouring.

It was long considered that the giraffe was entirely voiceless, but recent writers have thrown doubt on this.

Cape Buffalo

A gorgonopsian Rubridgea predator of the Permian period trundles across the Karoo plains after escaping from the Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre in Nieu Bethesda, Eastern Cape. Known as "terrible eyes," the reptile is probably searching for the herbivorous dicynodonts.
(Just kidding, it's a fibreglass model!)

Nieu Bethesda is a three-hour drive from Port Elizabeth, past Graaff-Reinet.

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